Increased Alert

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," July 7, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: What can the government do to keep us safe from terrorists like the ones in London (search)? Joining me now is Joe Peters, a former liaison to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Joe, thank you very much.

JOE PETERS, FMR. HOMELAND SECURITY AIDE: Thank you, my mother is grateful.


GIBSON: Oh, good. What is going on that we don't see now?

PETERS: Well, sort of transparent to all of us is the increased level of communication, John, as well as increased level of vigilance. In the transit system in particular, but everywhere else, going the extra mile, having the bomb detention dogs, looking for bombs or parcels left unattended, looking in traffic cans, increasing our video surveillance. It's a force multiplier that enables us to look more places more quickly.

At the same time, the government put into gear the Interagency Incident Management Group (search). That group is senior level, principal level people from all of the significant and affected federal agencies. They will start communicating as they did this morning regularly.

GIBSON: All those people who were out there looking and everybody who enters the transit system — every person on the New York subway carries a black bag, every single one of them, some of them have got two or three. Do you know who you are looking for?


GIBSON: Do you have intelligence on who it is you ought to be looking for?

PETERS: There is some intelligence to help focus and target. But sort of the diamond in the rough here are those that you wouldn't suspect as being assets in this extra vigilance, and that is the general public.

I was in Israel recently. There are 70,000 citizen volunteers in Israel to add those extra eyes and ears. In the U.S. we have been fortunate, we have not had to do that. I think we see Thursday in London, and as we saw after 9/11, we have to be vigilant, each and every one of us.

GIBSON: I ride the New York City subway systems. You can't put a bag down and walk away from it; nobody is going to put up with that. They are going to call a cop, they're going to do something. I am talking about do you know who you're looking for?

Apparently in Britain, they did not know who these four people were. They weren't identified. They weren't being followed. They weren't being phone-tapped. They weren't being listened to. Do we know here?

PETERS: The nature of these cells is to be invisible, is to have lived among the population, is to have planned for a long period of time. This attack could have been planned for years. It might have been planned for the last couple of months. These cells exist within us. They are looking for their opportunity.

Was that opportunity the G-8 (search)? We all believe it was. Was it the award of the Olympics to London, which increased the profile and therefore attention and therefore impact of this? We believe it is. Was it Tony Blair (search) and his affiliation with the president and supporting us in Iraq? We believe it is.

GIBSON: But Joe, we want to tell people who are thinking about this, we are watching you. So do they have a reasonable expectation that if there is any reason they should fall under suspicion, their phone could be tapped? They could be the victims of federal black bag job? They could have their computer chips so we see every keystroke? Do they have a reasonable fear that that stuff could be done to them?

PETERS: No. John, we don't have enough assets, as you can see, to go after the real bad guys, so to speak. We are not going to waste those intruding on people's liberties.

GIBSON: Joe Peters, formerly with the Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Joe, thanks very much, I appreciate it.

PETERS: You're welcome, John.

Content and Programming Copyright 2005 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.